It was midnight last Wednesday. We were wrenched out of deep sleep by sudden, horrible screaming. "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!", Lyle screamed in a really unusual, horrifying way. Matt tore off downstairs. Seconds later it changed to, "Mommy! Mommy!" and I followed. But by the time I got down to the kids' level, Matt was leaving their room, shaking his head. "It's not him," he said.
It wasn't Lyle.
This had happened before. We are in a condo building where three other young children live. If our monitor is on the wrong channel, we pick up the signal from one of them in the middle of the night and get scared shitless for no reason whatsoever. Hearts pounding, grateful that Lyle was fine, we finally went back to sleep.
It was 11 pm. I picked up the monitor. "Is this on the right channel for sure?" I asked Matt, who was already in bed. "Yeah, we changed it after last night," he replied. I felt uncertain. The loud static wasn't exactly the same as its usual loud static. I switched it back and forth to demonstrate this. But he insisted. And we were both so tired that we decided it had to be fine and was not worth testing. After all, the kids so rarely wake up during the night and our sleep was disturbed last night - we were sure to be fine even if it wasn't fixed (you see where this is going, don't you?). So off we went to la-la land.
Until 1 am. Never have I been jarred from sleep in this way. In my life. I pulled myself out of an intense dream (I recall pushing people out of the way in my dream in order to get myself up to the surface of consciousness), only to start screaming. Loudly. I was screaming because Matt was screaming. Matt was screaming because, from somewhere else in the house, both of the boys were screaming. At the top of their lungs. As if the house were on fire. That is truly what I believed (in my semi-consciousness) must have been happening. We could hear someone pounding up the stairs towards us, screaming and crying. I fought my way off of our bed, not even aware of my screaming, and pushed towards the doorway, where Matt had stopped to meet Baxter. Matt turned to me in half-asleep anger, and hollered, "WHY ARE YOU STILL SHOUTING?" Trying to catch my breath, I shouted, "WHERE'S LYLE?? WHAT'S GOING ON?"
Matt could see that Lyle was running up the stairs screaming and crying behind Baxter, but I couldn't, being trapped in the bedroom and all. Once all four of us were in each other's arms in the doorway, it became abundantly clear that all of us had been hollering at the very top of our lungs together.
"I had an earache," cried Baxter.
Um, an earache?! You mean the house is neither on fire nor full of armed militiamen?
"I was calling for you and calling for you," he started wailing, "and you didn't come! And then Lyle woke up and he was calling for you, too. When I came upstairs to find you, he got scared and upset and started to scream and chased me. I was so scared that I started running and screaming, too!" We were all shaking.
Holy Mary Mother of God, you have no idea what it sounded like. If not for the storm we were stuck in last summer in Michigan, this would have been my scariest parenting moment ever. We took the kids into bed with us and held them tight for the rest of the night. It took some of us many hours to fall asleep again.
Enter: a new monitor. One that not only does NOT pick up any neighbors' children but has no static whatsoever. It is clear as a bell. And only one channel that only connects to my own children's room! Imagine! I could go on and on about this monitor but I'm sure many of my readers have no use for one anymore. Just know that if you do need one, or know anyone who does, this Safety 1st High-Def Digital Monitor is truly amazing and you can read all about it here. It also looks damn cool, like something from the Apple store, which you know will always make us happy. We have always leaned towards the $19.99 baby monitors, but this time no price was too steep to guarantee that we would always hear our kids - and only our kids - during the night.
We're all sleeping better now.